Cast Away

‘Cast Away’ enables a viewer to experience isolation and desolation like no other film in recent memory. Director Robert Zemeckis (What Lies Beneath, Forrest Gump) crafts an ambitious and elegant story revolving around Chuck Nolan (Tom Hanks), a FedEx employee who is stranded on a desert island for several years due to a horrific plane crash.


Zemeckis makes no secret of handing over the complete second act to Hanks to retain the viewer’s attention. No music, no 45-degree camera angles – just simple storytelling to demonstrate Hanks’ isolation. ‘Cast Away’ is quite an achievement in terms of a film’s power to play with the human emotion.


This film is structured into three related yet completely different acts which all have a different story to tell. The film opens with an energetic and rowdy scene in Russia where Hanks’s character is leading a giant FedEx shipment. With the use of frantic editing and great camera tracking – including a p.o.v. shot from a FedEx package, Zemeckis demonstrates the importance of delivering packages on time. Here we see Hanks’ character’s obsession with his work in which he utters these great lines, ` We live and die by the clock. We must never allow ourselves the sin of turning our backs on the clock’. Yet, in watching the film closely, we see completely that Hanks had to have let go of this mantra to survive. Within this first act, we enter Hanks’ life through an enormous Christmas dinner with his girlfriend (Helen Hunt) and discover all that Hanks has to live for. Cut quickly to a terrific plane crash sequence that comes completely unexpected in which our main character finds himself stranded on a deserted island with nothing but his sanity to keep him grounded.


In this second act we are limited to extraordinary filmmaking with little use of dialogue and musical score. Instead, we are treated to Hanks’ ‘tour-de-force’ performance in which he commands his screen presence. We see Hanks struggle with the impossibility of starting a fire from scratch, making acquaintances with a volley ball named ‘Wilson’ and deal with the inevitable possibility of never returning home. The third act is in essence a closure to all the events that have occurred in the film. Therefore, we will not go into detail, yet some might find the last act a tad disappointing, yet, it is evident that the filmmakers stuck with the most realistic ending possible.


As far as the film is concerned, it plays on no other level than human emotion. Zemeckis leaves us no choice but to sympathize with our beloved character as he struggles to maintain his dignity in a world where there is none. We also see our character struggle with an unbearable weight loss as he wrestles with famine in a place where food is scarce and loneliness inevitable.


The best thing about this film are the subtle, yet present symbolic events or images that convey the notion that although we might seem alone- we never are. It might take a second viewing to notice these, but they are there – and that is just one of the many great elements that compose this great film.


Cast Away is an iconic film that’s still talked about years later. But if yor’re looking for something a little fresher, read up on what’s hot from hollywood today.


Not A ‘Drop-Dead’ Beautiful Actor_ Here’s 8 Acting Career Benefits

The Terms ‘Drop Dead’ Beautiful, Or ‘Drop-Dead Handsome’, Or ‘Drop-Dead’ Attractive…

…Are Descriptive Words That Actually Are Used In The Acting Business: When Casting Roles, On The Audition Breakdowns, As Character Descriptions In Screenplays, In Colloquial Speech Amongst Professionals In The Industry, By Casting Directors And Agents


(As a professional actress, whenever I heard it used, I cringed. Why? Well, it made me feel a little ‘lesser than’, in terms of my value level inside the profession of the art form that I loved with all my might.


I, myself, was not considered a ‘Drop Dead’ beautiful acting type. No. I was never treated as such, in the acting profession. Never auditioned for roles that were that acting type, etc. That’s why I can advise you about getting your own successful acting career, if you aren’t that physical type.


To be absolutely up front about this…I learned that I was cast and considered as such, for one role. Daniella in THE SUPER MARIO BROS. And when I heard that, mid-film-shoot, I was caught by surprise. For years, I was accustomed to hearing that I was not inside the Business.)


Acting Career Benefits, For Those Actors Who May Not Be Gorgeous Enough To Give Someone A Heart Attack

I’ll give you the list of professional acting benefits; then later, I’ll write about the individual items on this list.


  1. The Gorgeous Type Is An Overpopulated, Highly-Competitive Acting Type, In The Industry.


  1. The Roles For DDG Types, Are Almost Never As Interesting As Those Acting Roles For The Non-Gorgeous Actors


  1. When You Aren’t A DDG Acting Type, And You DO Get Into The Business, You Get In Because You Really Are An Actor. That’s Integrity That Sustains Over A Professional Acting Career.


  1. You’ll Also Be An Actor Who Will Work Hard And Earn Your Acting Career. (An Awesome Accomplishment.)


  1. Models, Usually, Can’t Act. It’s Almost Always True, For Good Reason, And Learned Habits.


  1. Necessary Actor ‘Privacy’ Onstage And On Camera: Gorgeous Actors Often Have Issues With This Acting Essential


  1. Being Gorgeous Has A Short Shelf Life, That Expires Relatively Early In Acting Careers. Especially True For Actresses.


  1. Most Actors Do Not Accept Their Acting Shortcomings. Or They Simply Aren’t Aware Of Them. Many Actors Expect To Be Professionals Long Before Their Acting Abilities Are Professionally Ready. Certainly Not Virtuoso-Level. Sometimes, The Delay In Acting Success Forces Actors To An Acting Expertise Level Of Brilliance.


Inside The Acting Business: Your Acting Attributes, Physical Attributes, Are Discussed With You And To You.

Get used to it. You just have to.


Most of the time, it’s hard to hear.


Also, most of the time, it’s accurate information that you can use to get you acting career success. Because if you are on the wrong track for your type, and you are trying to promote yourself, and be cast in a type that doesn’t fit, you are only stalling your own career.


Sometimes, that information that the actor doesn’t want to hear, is the wake up information that they can incorporate to kickstart a career; or move an inactive acting career, forward.


There’s nothing more acting-career-HALTing than actors whose photos are inaccurate representations of what their cast-ability is. Their acting type.


The biggest 8X10 headshot mistakes that novice actors make, is to present themselves in their photo as more glamorous, sexier, or as a top-tier beauty.  (Refer back to benefit #1)  That kind of mistake keeps many actors from ever breaking in professionally. Their representational photos are not really representational of who they are, and how they would be cast. As they use them in attempts to become an acting professional; to compete as an acting type, and a visually verifiable acting type; that they just are not. These actors present an expectation that they can’t and won’t deliver, when seen in person. As an actor. Especially when there are so many other verifiable… ‘drop dead beautiful’ novice actors.


Want more inspiration? Just look to Adam Driver, a breakout star with numerous accolades under his belt who’s managed to make his unique look work to his advantage.


The Graduate

The counter-culture sold out long ago but this seminal film from the sixties still plays – even if only as an expertly made romantic comedy.


Forty years ago, those under the age of thirty who had yet to grow a beard, drop out of college or experiment with drugs were brought into the fold of the times with The Graduate, out now in a fortieth anniversary DVD edition.


This hybrid Broadway two-hander and youth culture melodrama truly converted the masses, as surely as the then little-known Dustin Hoffman, as dissatisfied collegian Benjamin Braddock, converted all-American beauty Katherine Ross from on high in the film’s climactic wedding sequence, a counter-culture God reaching even the squarest of the young, preaching the renunciation of the cross in favor of a universe of spontaneity and uncertainty.


Seen today – with or without the annoying commentary track that is the big sell of this reissue – the film plays quite differently – not as a call to arms at all, but rather as a cockeyed Oedipal tragedy played largely for laughs, nevertheless maintaining the genre’s trademark elements of shame, sadness and anxiety.


Benjamin’s affair with family friend Mrs. Robinson, the sly, sultry, sad alcoholic, is not seen as a comically improbable reconciliation of the generations, nor as a mutual dissatisfaction with the emptiness of middle class life. It plays more simply and universally: as a search for that elusive romantic ideal, true and lasting love; from the get-go, Mrs. Robinson knows that Ben is not the answer, simply a temporary remedy, and vice-versa. Both also know that Mrs. Robinson’s daughter Elaine is not the solution for Ben either, though Ben deludes himself into thinking so as a means of eschewing the worst aspects of his character. The memorable last scene, of Ben and Elaine venturing into the future, was to end with a kiss; instead, of course, they simply stare uncertainly at one another, then just as uncertainly ahead. What was once a wide-eyed stare into the face of the unknown reads today as an equally terrified gaze into the eyes of Venus.


Stripped by time to its romantic comedy skeleton, the classic film fan starts to become aware of how much of the film resembles Billy Wilder’s The Apartment, which might, in part, have inspired it, with its young-old triangle and its scenes of the schleppy hero mistaken by all – from the Robinson family to the boys at the boarding house at which Ben stays to set things right with Elaine – for a heartless lothario. (The Heartbreak Kid, made a few years later – and remade just recently – comes to my mind, too, with its premise of impossible romantic pursuit.)


All of this, it should be said, did not escape the eyes of the wiser critics of the day, who were able to look into their crystal balls and intellectually separate the film from the zeitgeist. At the time, director Mike Nichols was rapped on the knuckles for staging an unfair fight, failing to afford the world Ben was rebelling against sufficient screen time, thus putting the depth of the character’s dissatisfaction into question.


And indeed, today, the middle class that Ben finds himself at odds with, exemplified mostly by his parents, comes across as a happy, self-satisfied and generally harmless lot, hardly the types to inspire lasting detachment in anybody. Of course, I am writing in an age in which the Benjamin Braddocks of the world have grown up to be mirror images of their parents…were the Pauline Kaels of the world wise enough to see that?

If The Graduate still plays then, and it does, it’s not simply because its themes – the search for true love, the clash of generations – are destined to play in any age. It’s because, as it should be with any film, of the collective expertise of the filmmaking – from the sure-handed staging of the Nichols And May-style bedroom exchanges to the languid close-ups, rac focuses and dissolves of cinematographer Robert Surtees, whose work comes together with Simon and Garfunkel’s catchy, poetic score to create some of the best introspective sequences in the history of American cinema.


Whether it’s this fortieth anniversary re-issue you see, or the thirty-fifth that came out half a decade ago, or the forty-fifth and fiftieth anniversary versions that are sure to come, rent and enjoy The Graduate – not as the distant din of a decades old alarm-cry, but as an extremely well crafted romantic comedy.


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Boost business with a social media virtual assistant

Of course everyone who begins an online business wants it to be successful. They do everything they possibly can, learn everything they possibly can, and try to put it all into action. They believe that this is the recipe for success. Many times this is unfortunately not the correct way to approach things. Doing everything yourself can often leave you stressed, burnt out, and unmotivated. This often leads to disastrous results. One of the best ways to combat this is to outsource work to those who are experienced in that particular area.


A great example of this would be to hire what is known as a Social Media Virtual Assistant. Also known as a Social Media manager, this individual’s responsibilities would be to do some small business marketing on popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. This would be a help to your business because it is one less task that you have to learn how to do. It frees up your time to do other important tasks to make sure your business is on the right road to success. Even if you decided to learn how to do some social media marketing yourself, you would not be classified as an “expert.”


A VA who specializes in social media often has a vast array of experience in this area and can provide you with results most likely a lot quicker then you would see by doing it yourself. Yes, it would also be an expense to hire a Virtual Assistant. Especially a Virtual Assistant who specializes in such a hot area right now such as social media.


This often puts a new business owner off because their marketing funds are limited. But, if you take the time to weigh the pro’s and con’s of hiring or not hiring this VA, you will see that the pro’s totally outweigh the cons especially in the long run. You will be on the way to having increased traffic, higher revenue, and keeping your sanity and stress level at a minimum. All wonderful reasons to include a Social Media Virtual Assistant on your team.


Save Time. Make More Money. Grow Your Practice. Let Golean Health take care of your office needs while you and your staff spend more time serving your patients.



Virtual Assistants Can Help Your Marketing

Marketing is one of the most important things for any business. In a world millions of businesses, both online and offline, the ability to advertise well and make yours stand out occupies much of your time and effort. However, it’s also very easy to be swamped in the tedious, but very necessary task of advertising for your company and end up spending all day, every day doing things like posting blogs, creating advertisements, and promoting your website through social networking and other things. Marketing is very important, but time consuming, so you may want to consider unloading the bulk or the entirety of it onto a virtual assistant or two.

A virtual assistant can do all manner of things to help with your marketing. He or she can write up the advertisements for posting, post and respond to blogs about your products and services, and even advertise on his own social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. By outsourcing your marketing, you not only get someone who can do the more tedious work, but you also access another customer market as your virtual assistant can tell his friends and family about your products and services; and if this assistant lives halfway across the world, that’s a whole new customer base to build on.

A virtual assistant can also take care of any forums you have posted about your products and manage your customer lists while helping to make them grow. Your virtual assistant can also contact other clients and customers for you and send along any day to day notifications you have so that you don’t have to do it. Your assistant can also help to answer any questions that potential customers may have about your product, write up blogs and promotional articles, and other marketing tasks that you think might help your product grow and prosper online.

A virtual assistant can do many of the most tedious, but very important tasks related to marketing your products and services so that your profits can grow and your business can grow. For a low cost of only around $1100/month, you can find a qualified promoter of your goods so that you can concentrate on other business issues. A virtual assistant can easily commit the time and attention required to market your business, products and services.

Contact Golean Health for more information about working with a dedicated medical virtual assistant.



Branding Your EMails


Here’s irony. I not only remember, but still possess, an artifact from the ’80s: a special “letterhead book.” These publications accommodated thousands of letterhead, envelope, and label designs. Designing a letterhead had become a work of art, honed by the imperative of clearly reflecting a company’s brand image.

By 1998, most Western countries noticed electronic mail exceeded the “snail mail” output and input. Suddenly, e-mail replaced regular mail. This signaled the demise of good old, paper-based letterhead.

Why has virtually no attention been given to the design of electronic letterhead? If I review the approximately 300 e-mails I receive on a daily basis from various companies all over the world, just five — yes, you read that right: five — e-mails are equipped with brand markers. By brand markers, I mean something beyond a signature line in Courier New font.

How many business e-mails do you send daily? 100? More? How many letters do you send every day? 10? Fewer? In all likelihood, you send 10 times as many emails as you do paper mail. Yet, I’ll bet the first thing you did when your company opened its doors was to print… yes, letterhead! Right? Why wasn’t the first thought designing an e-letterhead? An email template to reflect your company’s spirit. You must have known you’d use email in communications many times more frequently than any other medium.

We are overlooking email as a branding tool. Many emails in my inbox, sent by people at some of the world’s most respected brands, don’t even display consistent signature lines. They change from message to message. Worse, often there’s no signature line at all, just the sender’s name (which, by the way, seems to become abbreviated to just a first name when the dialogue is friendly). Brand is 100 percent invisible. The person sending the e-mail is a more visible brand than the company at which they are employed.

Five features should characterize email in the future:

  • A well-designed email template. This should be something simple and memorable that reflects the brand’s values without overpowering the e-mail message. 
  • Consistent use of that template by everyone in the company. 
  • Guidelines for template use, such as variations on the template for separate divisions, countries, products/services, and so forth. 
  • A backup template for recipients whose technology can’t read the fancy edition. 
  • Significantly, investment in creating guidelines for email writing; subject lines; signatures; font choice; and content emphasis in a consistent, brand-led manner.

Your brand is not merely your logo. It’s every consumer touch point. That includes e-mail. A good online marketing company, like Student Marketing Agency, is very familiar with this and knows all strategies.

My letterhead book is collecting dust on a bookshelf. But it’s waiting for a companion edition: an e-letterhead book. How long will the space beside that letterhead book remain empty? When will the corporate world care about the look and the message of its e-mail?

This is a big topic. Over the next two weeks, I’ll focus on the art of constructing effective, branded e-letters. E-letterhead is just one essential. Effective communication of content in each email is another.



Great Leadership Depends

leadership-conceptYou might be doing everything a good leader is supposed to do and still find yourself both frustrated and ineffective.

The reason is not obvious. In fact, most leadership advice-givers make a critical error in the way they address leadership. As it is known by great motivational speakers such as Richard Jadick, the underlying assumption is that good leadership results from the individual’s attitudes and actions.

That’s only half right.


The other half, as shown by the diagram above (click it to enlarge it), is the role of the leader’s organization to either support or thwart the leader’s individual efforts at leading well.

When a leader is working very hard at exhibiting good leadership skills, but his or her organization does little to nothing to support those efforts, that leader is going it alone. And will end up in the upper left quadrant. Frustrated. And likely to leave the organization.

We strongly urge our clients to think past the outdated concept that good leadership is solely up to the individual. It’s just not true. And that’s why so many Leadership Development efforts fall flat. They are predicated on (essentially) “fixing” leaders but do nothing to address the critical role that the organizational environment plays in determining the true effectiveness of a leader.

Good organizational support systems (for hiring, firing, compensating, declaring clear priorities, and the like) can help a good leader more easily become a great leader.

And, as the lower right quadrant shows, force a lousy leader to act, at least occasionally, a little more like a good one.

Great leadership results from both individual efforts and the collective support systems in the leader’s environment.

Implications & Takeaways

In developing the leaders around you, evaluate the processes and the institutionalized habits that help or hinder your supervisors and managers. What policies and programs need strengthening? Which are long overdue for an overhaul (or an execution)?

If you are convinced that your own leaderful actions are being defeated by corporate policy or culture, ask yourself:

  • How can I modify what I’m doing to more effectively counter the opposing forces?
  • What can I do to eliminate the very existence of such forces?
  • Given current trends, what’s the likelihood of this situation improving in the near future?
  • How long can I remain committed, motivated, and effective in this environment?
  • What are my alternatives?

Remember, all leadership is contextual. Your effectiveness is, without question, as much tied to time, place, and other managers, as your own resolve and actions.

Leadership is not a solo sport, and it cannot take place in a vacuum. While you need not wait for ideal conditions to practice good leadership, you might find over time that suboptimal conditions could well detract from your potential contribution.

Do what you can. And consciously decide what that is.


Mission Statement Sets the Stage


I am regularly called upon by company leaders to help them “improve the workplace environment.” Leaders know that help is required to motivate staff, to deal with conflict and to get everyone pointed and pulling in the same direction.

I recently worked with a company that has just realigned after a shareholder buyout. Long standing conflict and conversations about “what was” and “how awful” are disappearing in favour of “excitement for the new.” With the loss of any team member(s) a whole new team forms. This team is adjusting to new roles, aligning support for each other over various responsibilities, and defining work-related parameters.

The principals, drained by the transition, are now focused on building their new team. They want to increase employee commitment to the “new” company. Each partner has a similar, yet different idea of the company mission and how to proceed. The principals had failed to formulate a mission statement despite attempting to do so over a five-year period. They decided to bring in help.

We instructed the partners to provide us with their vision and mission statement and to do so in isolation from each other. A subsequent meeting was arranged. During the second meeting we had them answer critical questions, the findings of which were key to formulating their new mission statement. After an hour and a half the task was complete.

Like many business owners they had spent countless hours with each other, with staff, at work and during secluded retreats. They estimated the cost to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. While their intent was great their results were nil – until now.

“Your mission is your purpose for existing as a business,” I reminded them. “Everything you do must align with your mission statement.” Every day leaders face business decisions that leave them doubting. The single question that clarifies their next step is “What is my purpose here?” A crystal clear mission statement makes the next step possible.

The partners know their mission statement is invaluable and want their staff to use it. They have planned a three-part intervention to invite staff’s buy-in. I reminded the partners that when the leaders make decisions in the absence of employee input, employees have no attachment to it. They feel no commitment and no passion to carry out the plan. However, when staff is invited to join the enterprise and to help move the company forward, they feel valued and will get involved.

That is exactly what is happening here.

Practical steps are insufficient. It’s essential that leaders use external specialists, highly skilled in developing mission statements and intimately familiar with human responses. Understanding why people resist, where they feel vulnerable, and how to surface employee’s real concerns, is critical. Partners need to understand their own leadership style, their unique methods of decision-making and their values. By doing so they can learn not to inflame employees and unintentionally create a difficult environment. One thing that is helpful to pass the message you want to the employees and create a united team is hiring a motivational speaker – if you want to check one, a great option is Richard Jadick.

Committed to developing a highly engaged, communicative and innovative staff, the principals are now creating a positive economic impact for their company. Everyone wins.

If you are the leader, it’s your role to set the stage. How you, or those you appoint on your behalf, manage your people, design your mission statement, build commitment to the company, and reorganize your company is paramount to your success. Quality is never about things. It’s about your people.


Brand Checkup: Relevance and Intuitiveness

Today we’re discussing how to evaluate your brand’s online presence and optimize its performance. We’ll look at content relevance and site intuitiveness.

Test: Does your home page attempt too much?

The more you have to say, the more focused you should be. Ever visited a site and wondered where to start? Visit any global brand Website, such as or, and you’ll discover it is hard to find what you’re looking for. These companies try to say everything to everyone at the same time. Each topic must fight for attention and for space on the home page.

Saying everything to everyone, not to mention squeezing it all onto the home page, is impossible. Branding is about establishing relevance. The more relevant your brand is to the consumer, the more likely that consumer is to purchase your brand.

Structure content in such a way that your message appears only when it’s relevant. How? Forget about an internal site search engine. Instead, establish microsites, each representing essential offerings from your company.

Imagine you’re an insurance company that offers everything from old-age and life insurance to property, car, and boat insurance, travel coverage… you name it. Instead of displaying all those policies at once, spread the information around. Establish a site that focuses 100 percent on old-age insurance, linking to your corporate site as well, of course. Establish another that focuses entirely on property insurance. Each site should be optimized for search engines, ensuring it appears when a user types the site’s subject as a key phrase (e.g., “property insurance”). A company that claims expertise in everything garners less credibility than a company that offers niche expertise.

Test: Is your brand intuitive?

Like me, I’ll bet you’ve purchased a video recorder and found the instruction manual heavier than the appliance. Most probably, the VCR can do amazing things. But the manual’s so indigestible, you use only the simplest of functions — the intuitive ones.

Brand building, online and off-, is much more than ensuring logo visibility. Branding must be intuitive. It should require no instruction manual, lengthy description, or oracular guidelines. Ask yourself what a typical first-time user would want to know. What would a second-time user be after? The needs are bound to be vastly different. Brand usability is essential.

Experience clearly shows customers who have difficulty finding what they’re looking for on a site cultivate a diminished opinion of the brand. Analyze the type of information each consumer is most likely to be after, right this very minute, and structure that information in such way that navigating through it is intuitive.

Relevance and intuitiveness are essential parts of a healthy online brand’s life. Did you pass this week’s brand health check? If you did, stay tuned for next week’s installment. At this rate, your site is elevating closer to brand heaven. Are you nearly there?

Why a Traffic Retention Strategy Matters

It’s getting increasingly harder to generate and secure traffic to your site. Time to reconsider your strategy for building this valuable asset? Statistics show persuading a customer to visit your site is 10 times more difficult than persuading existing customers to make a purchase.

What’s your traffic retention strategy? What measures are in place for retaining visitors?

It’s said’s original strategy was to retain customers for at least 10 years. That’s an ambitious goal. But you do need a traffic retention strategy that looks further into the future than one day or one week. Short-sightedness is characteristic of most sites. Look 3, 6, or even 12 months ahead. Give more to each customer during that period. There are returns with this strategic investment. You won’t make your goal tomorrow, but perhaps six months to a year from now you will.

Why talk about long-term strategy in times demanding instant return on investment (ROI) and instant results? Because your customers aren’t dumb. We’re all customers, after all. We’re all sick and tired of the never-ending addictions to decreasing quality and supposedly “special” offers. While everyone focuses on short-term goals, today’s discount, and other gimmicks, smart marketers combine this thinking with long-term vision. They’re plotting in substantial timeframes to survive beyond today.

Brands that will reap rewards in 6 to 12 months are those adopting parallel short- and long-term strategies. In doing so, they communicate to customers they don’t stand for short-term, opportunistic gain. They want to build loyalty.

Easier said than done? Yes. In coming weeks, I’ll take you through some future-focused activities you should consider adopting. They can help you establish more enduring customer loyalty, secure valuable repeat visits to your site, and encourage increased frequency of return and consequential revenue gain.

None of this will put an end to your day-to-day, short-term strategies, important for generating buzz around your site. The two approaches must be combined and work in harmony. Make your customers feel you’re in business for the long haul and not, like so many other Web sites, only for today. Acting like there’s no tomorrow can persuade visitors that’s exactly the case. There’s no reason for them to visit again.

A golden tip to help you through these difficulties is to seek help from a professional source, such as Student Marketing Agency.